Well, we all saw it coming. The long national nightmare is over. Ok, maybe not a national nightmare, but a local one for sure. Rick DiPietro and the Islanders have parted ways. The team used it’s compliance buyout on the oft-injured netminder They will owe DP $1.5 million the over the next 16 years, but it will not count against the team’s salary cap. As Peter Botte of the NY Daily News tweeted, the Islanders will be done paying DiPietro in 2029, a full 6 years before the Mets are done paying Bobby Bonilla. So, there is some kind of bright side!
The future was very bright for Rick Dipietro when then GM “Mad” Mike Milbury maneuvered through the 2000 NHL Entry draft to get what he thought would he his star pupil. DP was sure-handed, Brodeur-esque with the stick and as cocky as they come. Milbury would get his man and then trade away their incumbent goaltender; a guy by the name of Roberto Luongo.
DP actually wound up starting 20 games in the 2000-01 season, but he could only manage 3 wins and a 3,49 GAA for a squad that mustered just 51 points the entire season. He was sent back down to the minors for more seasoning after his less than stellar start. He played for the Chicago Wolves of the IHL, and in 2001-02 the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL.
But, DP would be back with the big club tin 2002-03, playing in 10 games, getting 2 wins and lowering his GAA to 2.97.
In 2003-04, he finally got the full time starting job and made Milbury look like a genius (we now know otherwise). Rick went 23-18-5 with a 2.36 GAA. DiPietro was named to the US Men’s Hockey Team at the 2006 Torino Olympics held in February. DP was Team USA’s No. 1 goalie, starting 4 of the team’s 6 games. He played well, managing a 2.28 goals against average. Unfortunately, he went 1-3 during the tournament.
Things were really looking up, and Isles fans really had something to be excited about. But ,with few exceptions since about 1991, in Islander Country there was always another shoe waiting to drop. And, of course it did. Some fans may call September 12, 2006, with apologies to FDR, “A Date Which Will Live In Infamy”. For it was on that date that the Islanders signed Rick Dipietro to one of the most puzzling contracts in NHL history; a 15 year deal worth $67.5M. Of course, this team was no stranger to odd things happening:
- An owner in John Pickett who just decided to be an absentee owner and let the Coliseum and the team rot
- The horrific logo change
- Mike Milbury coaching the team, along with a carousel of others
- The John Spano debacle
- No playoff series wins since 1992-93
The list goes on and on. It would not have been that terrible if things had progressed from there. If Rick turned into Henrik Lundqvist, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?
Despite having a decent season in 2006-07, going 32-19-9 with a 2.58 GAA and leading the Islanders to the playoffs, DiPietro finished the season injured and so began the mayhem.
As he was wont to do, Dipietro went out to try to poke the puck away from Montreal Canadiens forward Steve Bégin and they collided, giving him a concussion. He returned later in the season only to be concussed again.
Since then, here is a nice Rick Dipietro Top 10 list:
- Had surgery for a torn labrum in his shoulder in the 2007 off-season
- Injured his hip during the skills portion of the 2008 All-Star Game. Played injured through part of March before having surgery.
- June 3, 2008 he told “Bubba The Love Sponge” of Sirius Satellite Radio that he would be undergoing knee surgery
- After returning for the first few games of 2008, Dipietro again had knee surgery for a torn meniscus
- He returned again in December of 2008, less than a month later he was out for the year with knee swelling
- Once again he came back on January 8, 2010. He lasted til Feb 6, 2010 when he yet again was out for the year with knee swelling
- On December 21, 2010, he was placed on Injured Reserve due to, you guessed it, knee swelling.
- In a game against the Penguins on Feb 2, 2011, this happened:
Brent Johnson in no uncertain terms broke DP’s face. He was out for more than 6 weeks with facial fractures and yes, his old friend, knee swelling.
9. During the 2011-12 season DiPietro took a shot off the mask in practice, was concussed, and missed a few weeks
10. November 5, 2011 DP notched his first win of that season, but injured his groin, had hernia surgery and missed the remainder of the season.
So, while you remember the good times and the bad Rick Dipietro had with the Islanders, we must now move on. We don’t wish Rick any ill will and thank him for his many years of “service”.
No one will be forgetting his contract any time soon, especially his buddy-in-chief, Charles Wang.
Now we know there will be no DP, probably no Evgeni Nabokov, no Cory Schneider, likely no Roberto Luongo, no Sergei Bobrovsky, and no Mike Smith. Let’s see what Gamblin’ Garth has up his sleeve. He certainly knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em and most Isles fans can agree that we are glad he cashed in his chips on this one.